Tomahawks fall to Grizzlies

After weeks of practice and preparation Merrimack wrestlers finally took to the mat for Wednesday night’s season-opener against Goffstown.

It was over in 45 minutes. Goffstown dominated the lower weight classes on its way to a 52-30 victory. Only one match went the full three periods.

The Grizzlies won the first five matches, four by pin, and racked up seven pins on the night.

Merrimack coach Tim McMahon said that the score was superfluous and that he was proud of the way his team performed.

“I think when we looked at their lineup we knew they were really tough,” said McMahon of Goffstown’s lower-weight wrestlers. “We have a pretty young team. We have tough kids that work hard. They’re good wrestlers, but we knew what we were getting into tonight. We had kids wrestling up a weight to start the season. Overall I thought they battled well and got after it.

“I don’t care about the dual meet, win or lose. I care about the individual matches and how the kids wrestled.”

The Tomahawks picked up four wins, three by pin, and were led by 220-pound junior Lucas Gardenour. Gardenour looked confident from the start of his match, pulling off a successful knee pick early and pinning his opponent in 44 seconds.

It was Gardenour’s first match at 220 after wrestling at 195 last year.

“We knew coming in this year that he’s going to be a contender for the 220 state title,” said McMahon of Gardenour. “He’s one of the few 220 pounds that will throw legs in on guys.”

Chad Mason, wrestling in his first high school match, didn’t take long to make a statement. The freshman controlled his opponent in the lock up, put him on his back, and picked up the lightning-fast pin in 20 seconds.

“He needed to come out strong and I think he was excited for it,” said McMahon of Mason’s performance. “He had the adrenaline going and got our first win for us.”

Sophomore Shane Heath also picked up a pin. The 182-pounder finished his match in 1 minute, 41 seconds.

“He came in this year much stronger and much more confident,” said McMahon about Heath. “We’re just excited that he’s wrestling as well as he is right now.”

Up next for the Tomahawks is a visit from Con-Val next Wednesday.

With eight more dual meets and plenty of tournaments before Division Meets, McMahon said he’s looking forward to developing his team for crunch time in February.

“The overall takeaway is that the dual meet score doesn’t matter whatsoever,” McMahon said. “We took a lot of notes on the matches – what they did well and what they need to work on. It’s just one building block. The final exam is the state tournament and this is just a quiz on the way.”